By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
“I won’t be here after tomorrow,” said Art Barrios, former Stanton code enforcement officer, “Last year about this time, with the first lay offs were being looked at, every single person [city employees of Stanton] voted last year that layoffs were the last option. We would take salary cuts, benefit cuts, everything, just so we wouldn’t have to be laid off. Here in two months we’re already laid off. We didn’t make it to the fiscal year.”
Tuesday night’s city council meeting in Stanton saw the closure of Zuniga Park, Hollenbeck Park and the water feature at Harry Dotson Park, the layoff of 20 city employees or appointees [full- and part-time], the dissolving of the parks and recreation commission, the closure of all non-fee based recreation programs across the city, the elimination of youth programs and after school programs, the elimination of summer programs, the reduction of city wide maintenance, the elimination of senior citizen special events, among other non-state mandated items or items of public safety.
“We feel like we have no power, we sit and wait and watch heads roll,” said Barrios.
The total of the cuts come to $877,638 for the city, which will allow it, by City Manager Carol Jacobs’ assessment, to stay afloat for a few more years.
These new cuts come after a pay freeze, staff reductions, other program eliminations and other cost cuts to the tune of $3.5 million over the last four years.
Said Dahlia Ferrer, “Treat the employees that remain with respect and kindness. In previous years, Stanton scrimped and saved and operated at a surplus, having enough money saved to cushion the blow of the recession.
However, it still isn’t enough.
“By shutting down parks and recreation, where are the kids going to go but for the streets? We can’t even afford to pay for the police department; it’s just crazy,” said Gerry Cox, resident.
The contract costs for the Orange County Sherriff’s Department and the Orange County Fire Authority’s public safety services as provided to the city of Stanton comprise over 70 percent of the annual budget, now with the elimination of other non-essential costs that percent will rise to around 80 percent of the annual budget.
The police services have also taken a hit by reducing staff, closing the substation and eliminating all non-sworn deputies in Stanton.
City residents decried the closures and cuts, saying that the safety and future well being of the children was at stake. Residents proposed that more volunteers be used or that furloughs days be instituted.
“If they get their way, the state might take everything from us, we would lose everything. Everything we have worked for. We are doing everything we can to keep this city . . . we have to keep the fire services going. We need our sheriff’s or else the gangs would take over in a matter of months,” said Al Ethans, city council member.
Ethans said that the city council members took a pay freeze years ago and pay for as much as they can for the city out of their own pockets.
According to the city manager, if all positions within city hall were eliminated, it still would not be enough to pay for the rising costs of public safety contracts.